Image by Valve on Flickr
After dropping down to the lower bracket early in the tournament, Team Liquid defeated opponent after opponent—the longest run through the lower bracket in TI history—and rose back to sweep Newbee in the grand finals. With TI7 breaking another prize pool record at $24.6 million dollars, Liquid is set to take home $10.8 million.
Liquid vs. LFY
One silver lining of having to play more games from the lower brackets early is gaining opportunities to grow and mature. Liquid had their backs against the wall in three separate elimination matches, and they came out of it stronger. They looked more comfortable in their draft, while being able to confidently take last picks like Broodmother and Huskar to disrupt their opponents.
Before dropping to Newbee, LFY was the most successful team at the tournament. They hadn’t lost a game in the upper bracket, and they ran through their group stage competition, with a 13-0 record at one point. But in a pre-recorded interview, Inflame talked about his team’s anxieties playing Liquid, an opponent that had bested them the majority of times in both scrimmages and official matches.
LFY came into this with confidence, letting Liquid grab the KOTL that nearly every other team had targeted in their first round ban phase. But despite Gh grabbing his Keeper, Mind_Control looked out of sorts on Earthshaker. He wasn’t able to create early space with the kind of aggressive rotations that Gh excels at.
LFY commanded an early and mid game lead, and Liquid’s last hope was a desperation rat with an Aghanim’s Scepter Bear. It was a nuisance long enough to delay the game, but LFY never ceded their advantage.
Gh was on point with his Earthshaker the entire day
Liquid wouldn’t be baited into a KoTL pick again for the rest of the event, and instead stuck to drafts that were closer to home: bringing Gh back on his Earthshaker and Mind_Control on Furion.
Bloodseeker had seen a lot of success at this tournament, more than what he should have, as PPD iterated throughout the week. He was heavily favored by Chinese teams, even with Newbee daring to pick it in the first round. In game 2, Liquid matched up their Venomancer against Super’s Bloodseeker, and pressured the mdi lane heavily with their supports.
Liquid created so much space for Matumbaman’s Alchemist the entire game that he was able to do whatever he wanted, farming a 14 minute Radiance and Armlet, and in another 14 minutes he had stocked up Assault Cuirass, Octarine Core, Manta Style and Boots of Travel in his inventory.
Mind_Control teleports on top of Roshan to steal the Aegis
Mind_Control gets picked off, then his instant buyback and teleport secures megacreeps for Liquid
Despite Gh’s high impact in this series, Mind_Control had to be the team’s MVP. He was always in the right place in the right time with his Furion, knowing when to rotate to secure a gank, or when to avoid the fight and go for objectives. In game 3, Liquid pulled off one of the earliest T1 tower kills in the tournament, at 2:18 game time. By 14 minutes, they had taken out all of LFY’s outer towers.
It looked to be a quick, snowball victory for Liquid, but LFY made some key pickoffs to extend the game. They were almost able to eke back into the game. Monet at one point was 7th in net worth, and in just a few minutes he rocketed up to 2nd place. But Liquid was ahead enough to just continue throwing bodies at LFY’s buildings until they got megacreeps and seal the game.
Liquid vs. Newbee
Coming from the loser’s bracket, Liquid was playing games nearly every day, sometimes twice a day. Meanwhile, Newbee had two more days of rest entering this grand finals series. It was a little more than a question of rest vs. rust for Newbee, because meanwhile, Liquid was soaring with confidence after their impressive run through the lower bracket.
Mind_Control would never get to play Furion in the series again after this game
Newbee opened up with a first phase Bloodseeker, and again Liquid took advantage as they did against LFY. This time they pressured Sccc’s Lina, who could do very little against a Lich duo lane. To make it worse, Mind_Control found every opportunity to lock Sccc out further, teleporting in to finish a gank and take out the courier.
Gh was again a menace with his rotations; this time on Slardar instead of his Earthshaker. His 14 minute Blink Dagger is decent timing for an offlaner, but incredible for a position 4. Along with an early Shadow Blade on Furion, Liquid had two vehicles for Matumbaman’s Lifestealer to find kills on the map.
A farmed Miracle casually hits buildings as three of Newbee’s heroes try to take him down
After a disastrous laning phase in game 1, Newbee reorganized and drafted for strong lanes in game 2. They had favorable matchups in all their lanes, and found kills in all of them to kick off a 3-0 kill lead.
Newbee looked to have everything in order to tie the series up. They pushed their kill lead to 10-0, and though Liquid had a gold lead, it was only their Alchemist that had farm, with every other hero trailing Newbee’s counterparts. Sccc rocked his lane and found early solo pickoffs. Moogy picked up a 13 minute naked Battlefury.
The game turned in just one moment, with Liquid taking out the Roshan, but not before securing the area with Mind_Control’s Plague Wards. Newbee committed to contesting Rosh, only moments after Liquid had secured the Aegis. Kpii on Legion Commander aimlessly walked into the pit and instantly died. Gh’s Fissure connected on two and split Newbee’s team at the same time.
Another TI win secured by an Echo Slam
There’s only so much you can ban against Liquid. With the deny pick on Venomancer, Newbee reverted back to their roots with a push-centric lineup of Death Prophet and Shadow Shaman. Even then, they were still tied in towers against Liquid by 16 minutes.
With that mid-game window quickly closing, Newbee transitioned their momentum into a Roshan kill. Liquid, with the confidence of a 2-0 lead, smoke ganked into both Exorcism and Serpent Wards in the pit.
Even though Newbee broke the smoke, their supports were out of position to retaliate. Shadow Shaman was quickly Vacuumed into a pit of death, and Kaka had his Blink disabled, forcing him to walk into the fight with half of Epicenter’s duration gone. After another failed Roshan fight, Newbee had little to no options to get back into the game, barring a few blunders from Team Liquid.
Liquid have done it. After seven years, Kuroky is finally a TI champion and now the highest earner in esports history. Gh redefined the impact that 4 position supports can have in all phases of the game. Mind_Control, with his prescient movements on the map, looked like the best Dota player in a field of all stars. And the breadth of Miracle and Matumbaman’s hero pools, their flexibility in roles, rounded out what made Liquid so difficult to draft against.
Fighting through the lower bracket, Team Liquid improved in the thick of adversity. How tested were they as they swept Newbee 3-0? How good was this team? As the next season looms ahead, they might just show us again.